Reynolds gives Cleary a happy headache
Author Jackson Thomas Timestamp Fri 6 Apr 2018, 06:34 PM
With prized off-season recruit Josh Reynolds nearing match fitness, Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary is preparing for a welcomed selection headache in his halves.
The Wests Tigers take on the Melbourne Storm in the opening match of Saturday’s double-header at Mt Smart Stadium full of confidence after having spoiled Billy Slater’s 300th game celebrations back in round two.
Cleary has again named Luke Brooks and Benji Marshall to start in the halves.
Marshall has started the season in red-hot form and while he might have lost a step physically, Cleary says the Kiwi great is playing with far more control than in years gone by.
“Benji has had a great contribution this year, no doubt,” he said.
"He rang me last year about the possibility of coming back and it took about five minutes for me to see that it was a good idea. I could just see that he really wanted to play and he had a lot more to give.
“I think it’s shown this year just how much he wants to play. He plays a fair bit differently than how he used to and he’s been a great leader off the field for the boys as well.”
However, with Reynolds thought to be just a week away from making his Tigers debut, Cleary might be forced to either drop his veteran five-eighth or look at carrying a half on the bench.
Either way, it’s a headache he’s happy to have.
“Look, we have to get through this game obviously before we worry about anything else in terms of who will play where but Josh will no doubt be a nice addition to have back in the side,” he said.
The Tigers are sitting fourth on the competition ladder after as many rounds with notable wins over both the Storm and competition heavyweights, the Sydney Roosters.
Wary of not jumping the gun, Wests Tigers vice-captain Russell Packer says the Tigers rebuild was still on-going.
“We are working hard for each other and it’s part of the culture we are trying to build here,” he said.
“It’s still in its infancy but we feel like we are on our way to building something that can last for a long time in this competition.”